Blue Brew renovates to create a more welcoming environment

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Leah Schroeder

Sophomore Ella Roesch works on her laptop in the new seating area Blue Brew created. The seating is available to everyone in the building at all times. “We would like Blue Brew to become a more central part of West High,” Business teacher Holly Weber said.

Arriving to school by 6:30 a.m. every other day for his shifts, Blue Brew manager and junior Aaron Hall starts his mornings in the cafe. 

Blue Brew is open Monday through Friday from 6:50 a.m. to 7:20 a.m. The menu currently includes iced vanilla lattes, mochas and hot chocolate for $1 to $3. 

“My favorite part is the coworkers because we always work together, and we have fun while making coffees and lattes,” Hall said. “The hardest part is if something breaks down and you don’t know what to do, you have to be able to tell people, ‘hey, we’re not going to be able to serve this.’ It’s just really hard to tell people that.”

Business teacher Holly Weber helped start a student-run coffee shop called Northern Lights Cafe at Parkway North in 2016. After transferring to West a year later, Weber planned for a similar shop here. 

“I saw how positive school-based businesses were for the students and the school community in general,” Weber said. “Blue Brew provides such value to our students, from an educational standpoint and from an overall school community perspective as well. Students are learning firsthand how to operate, manage, market, staff and control a business. Students who are working at Blue Brew are learning vital soft skills and work-related skills that will be invaluable in life after high school.”

Special Education teacher Wendy Zieleskiewicz’s Essential Skills students help manage the shop and provide teacher deliveries on Friday for Blue Brew. Additionally, there are currently seven baristas on staff and senior Jonny Yazdi is the accounting manager for the group.

“I got involved with Blue Brew to further my business knowledge and experience,” Yazdi said. “I deal with the money from the business and record [our] expenses and revenue, so overall it has been nice. I have seen the shop grow into what it is today and that has been fun. I hope Blue Brew continues to grow and become more like a coffee shop.”

Blue Brew officially started up last year, but the team has many ideas for future improvements. 

“We have plans to expand our menu and are hopeful that we might be able to expand our hours of operation, too. We would like Blue Brew to become a more central part of West High,” Weber said. “Our research suggests that adding ambient lighting, relaxing music and a cohesive coffee shop vibe would be well-received by our community. We are working on all of this.”

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A recent addition has been a seating area and more tables in the front lobby around the shop.  Students and faculty are free to use this space at any time. Blue Brew took out a loan through the school to make this happen.

“A comfortable environment will encourage folks to stay awhile and come back again; it makes people feel welcome,” Weber said. “A portion of our proceeds go to the repayment of that loan, another chunk of our revenue goes to support West Chest and money left over is put to[wards] operating Blue Brew.”